January 16, 2015 - Seeing Like a Camera

by Francine Way


It took me a while to complete all five projects in Chapter 9. It seems that the author wanted to tie all of the previous chapters together, focusing more composition, but not totally forgetting the technical details covered so far. 

Chapter 9 intends to educate its readers on breaking down picture-taking intuition into more conscious decision-making process and establishing common language with other photographers beyond layman's basic terms. In page 155, the first project tasks the readers to expose a few dozen digital pictures using the edges of the picture / frame in various ways. Below are the pictures I took to complete this project:

Main subject to one side / corner

Main subject to one side / corner

Empty center

Empty center

Looking outside the frame

Looking outside the frame

Entire Charcuterie Stand

Entire Charcuterie Stand

Unusual horizon line

Unusual horizon line

Headless personality

Headless personality

As seen above, I used the frame to zoom in/out of different subjects of interest. I don't always crop evenly all around nor do I maintain symmetry in all of the pictures. I think what worked best for me was when I kept the goals more as a guideline than a rigid framework - the outcomes turned out better. Ordinarily, I would do the opposite and adhere to the strict technical structure of "best practices", I also had more fun experimenting this way. 

The second project tasks the readers to make photographs in which the background complements or contrasts with the subject. Below are the pictures I took to complete this project:

#1 - complement

#1 - complement

#2 - complement

#2 - complement

#3 - complement

#3 - complement

Comparing the most successful prints, the background contributed to the subject in the above 3 pictures. 

The third project tasks the readers to use depth of field (DOF) creatively. Either increasing or decreasing the DOF to sharpen or blurred parts of the scene. Calling attention to certain parts of the scene while keeping notes on aperture size, focal length, distance, and why the subject was chosen. Below are the pictures I took to complete this project:

Regular

Regular

Increasing DOF

Increasing DOF

Decreasing DOF

Decreasing DOF

Comparing my results, I was able to get everything sharp when I used a tripod and set the aperture f-stop to its smallest. When I wanted something out of focus, it was out of focus enough. I might try other types of subject (buildings, people, animals, etc.) next time. 

The fourth project tasks the readers to show motion in a series of photographs. Specifically to use a tripod to keep the camera steady. Experimentations on keeping the subject sharp and blurred are also parts of the assignment, as well as panning so the subject is sharp against a blurred background. This project also asks for low and high angle pictures. Like the previous project, notes are to be kept, this time on shutter speed, distance, and relative subject speed. Below are the pictures I took to complete this project:

Regular subject

Regular subject

Panned subject

Panned subject

Sharp subject

Sharp subject

Low angle

Low angle

Blurred subject

Blurred subject

High angle

High angle

What worked for me are keeping the subject sharp, blurred, and sharpen. What didn't work so well were when taking low and high angles motion photographs - combining the right angle with panning was challenging for me. Too much blur can be seen in the high angle picture - the police car almost lost its entire markings. 

The fifth and last project tasks the readers to make a portrait. Specifically to make 3 dozens pictures of the same person in as many different ways possible, including the conventional head-and-shoulders portrait, different angles & heights, moving in closer, having the subject sitting or standing, having the subject expressed different emotions or role play, varying the lighting from all sides. Below are the photographs I took to complete this project:

#1

#1

#4

#4

#7

#7

#2

#2

#5

#5

#8

#8

#3

#3

#6

#6

#9

#9

My favorite photos are # 2, 5, and 7 because they depict such contrasting emotions and roles than each other. My subject seems to favor #5 and 6 because they are more rebellious in nature. The props (outfits) here do contribute to the picture since it portrays the roles that the subject was trying to showcase. The background (classroom studio's white wall) didn't contribute as well to each outfit. Someone who doesn't know my subject would probably think that he is a conman or someone with multiple personality disorder. Those who think that are not too far off - my subject is an acting student :-)

This post concludes the reviews and projects completed from this book (A Short Course in Digital Photography by Barbara London & Jim Stone, 3rd edition). I will be looking to another book next week, so stay tune!